Asks Rlys to link Srinagar, Kargil too
Amid growing concern within the government over the raging trouble in the Kashmir valley, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has directed the Railways to fast-track the project connecting Srinagar and Kargil with the rest of the country in the next three years.
Once the ongoing rail project gets completed, the distance between New Delhi and Srinagar will be covered in 14 hours flat.
Informing about the deliberations at the recent infrastructure review meeting, chaired by the Prime Minister, a senior official said: “The Prime Minister, besides reviewing the progress of the work on the Udhampur-Banihal section of the Jammu-Baramulla rail project, directed the Ministry of Railways to complete the project in the next three years.”
Highlighting the importance of the Rs 10,000 crore project, the Prime Minister said it would help integrate Kashmir with the national mainstream.
As per the presentation given by the Ministry of Railways at the meeting, approximately two-thirds of the 326-km Jammu-Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail link is ready. The portion that is yet to be completed is the 111-km stretch between Katra and Banihal, for which the Railway ministry has already allocated funds and formed a special monitoring team. Banihal is connected to Baramulla via Srinagar, while Jammu is linked to Katra via Udhampur.
The Katra-Banihal project is considered the toughest in the county’s engineering history and involves the construction of 27 bridges, including the tallest rail bridge in the world over the Chenab, and 37 tunnels, one of which is the longest in Asia having a length of more than 12 km.
“For the government, it is one of the most important projects, as it will boost its Kashmir outreach programme. The funds are being released timely so that there are no further delays. Construction on various stretches on the route is already on and several international consultants have been engaged,” the official said.
The PM also directed the Ministry of Railways to start work on the 200-km Srinagar-Baltal-Drass-Kargil route, the official said, adding that this rail line would help the country meet its strategic needs.